Directed by Vincenzo Natali.
Starring Abigail Breslin, Sarah Manninen, David Hewlett, Stephen McHattie, Peter DaCunha, Michelle Nolden, Eleanor Zichy and Peter Outerbridge.
The ghost of a teenager who died years ago reaches out to the land of the living in order to save someone from suffering her same fate.
In a genre slightly starved of creativity, Haunter deserves kudos for at the very least trying something new and original. With it’s Groundhog Day/Edge of Tomorrow-style narrative, director Vincenzo Natali (Splice) has certainly made a decent little thriller that for the first half at least does a respectable job despite it’s obvious budgetary constraints (the CGI fog is pretty bad), with some decent camerawork and a few genuine jumps. In that first thirty minutes, the film firmly puts you in guessing mode: why is Lisa in a time loop? Is she being punished? Is Lisa’s family truly unaware of what’s going on?
It’s a great little puzzle for the first third of the movie, given even more tension by the sudden break in the time loop when Lisa’s parents begin to do things differently. But, just as Stephen McHattie’s “Pale Man” character enters the fray, the film derails completely, and settles more into default-ghost-story-mode, and looses the majority of both it’s tension and atmosphere, and becomes a little silly towards its finale.
Performance wise, there is some decent work from all involved, with Abigail Breslin in particular excellent. Showing a growing maturity that she has gone on to expand upon since in August: Osage County, Breslin is slowly making her turn from child actress into fully-fledged adult star, and here takes a few more steps towards that goal.
Elsewhere, McHattie makes a decent stab at the creepy stalker here, despite the somewhat blandness of the character, and Peter Outerbridge (remember him as the “villain’ in Cool Runnings??), Michelle Nolden and young Peter DaCunha performing well together as Lisa’s family.
While far from being one of the worst straight-to-DVD horror films to be released this year (and there are always a lot), Haunter certainly starts off confidently enough: it’s excellent story and conceit certainly make the first third of the film an interesting find, but it falls away all to quickly into by-the-numbers mode. A disappointment then given it’s start, and certainly won’t find itself near the top of 2014’s horror efforts. (The brilliant Oculus still retains that crown).
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★